Nick Gillespie, the Fonzie of the libertarian movement, has an article today in The Daily Beast(!) lamenting how the public is okay with Big Brother as long as he is of the right party affiliation. Again, not that shocking.
In January 2006, Pew Research asked whether it was OK to collect info on “people suspected of involvement with terrorism by secretly listening in on telephone calls and reading emails between some people in the United States and other countries, without first getting court approval to do so.” A slim majority of all respondents—51 percent—said yes while 47 percent said no.
The partisan breakdown, however, was vastly different, with 75 percent of Republicans finding it acceptable and just 23 percent dissenting. When it came the Democrats, only 37 percent of Democrats signed off on NSA snooping, with a whopping 61 percent saying screw off.
Fast-forward to June 2013, when a Democrat occupies the Oval Office after an easy reelection and his party controls the Senate. Pew asked respondents whether it’s OK that the NSA “has been getting secret court orders to track telephone calls of millions of Americans in an effort to investigate terrorism.” This time around, it’s Democrats who overwhelmingly support collecting collecting yottabytes and exabytes of metadata on us all, with 64 percent saying they are totally fine with NSA surveillance programs and a measly 34 percent disagreeing. Among Republicans, enthusiasm for eye-in-the-sky surveillance has taken a major hit, with only 52 percent agreeing and 47 percent saying no.
Too true, but we can’t dismiss partisanship out of hand. Principles should be the utmost, but when you vote for a president, the trust issue has to play a role, or at least, it should. While George W. Bush was very much a big-government Republican, I didn’t have much fear that he would monitor my phone conversations unless I started hanging out with Hezbollah…nor did I fear that he would use the IRS to punish his political enemies. Didn’t seem like that kind of guy. With Obama and/or Hillary, I knew such actions were possible if not probable. In fact, Hillary already has a rap-sheet full of such nefarious activities.
Nevertheless, Gillespie is correct that we are put too much trust in “our guys” over staying true to our principles even when we run the show. However, I think the lack of outrage on a grand scale over Prism and the IRS targeting is cultural in nature. We’ve been trained to believe that this was going on all along. George Orwell introduced the possibility…since then we’ve been inundated with movies like The Truman Show, Minority Report, The Bourne series…and going back a ways, the masterpiece work of Francis Ford Coppola, The Conversation. Couple this with non-stop cable documentaries on Area 51, UFO conspiracies and the like and you have a public that receives the recent news with a knowing shrug.
So Gillespie says we need to be more principled and less partisan. Yes, but I would also advise folks to call the government’s bluff, whether it’s a bluff or not. At this point in the game, we’re not where Winston Smith was. Right now, you should show yourself to the cameras. Let them see what you do and think. Put a sign up that says “Lindsey Graham, Come Out of the Closet!” or “Wacko Birds of the World, Unite!” Let them know where you stand and let them come after you. When that happens, expose them. Look, I gave Mitt Romney $300 in 2012. It’s already established that if I ever need a lung-transplant or something like that under Obamacare, it’s not happening. Knowing that, I might as well spend what freedom I have left being defiant against tyranny.